Rested and no longer rubber-legged from its 19-hour trip two days earlier, UNLV’s men’s basketball team broke through with a 77-75 victory over the Illawarra Seahawks on Friday at Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
Led by senior guard Mareceo Rutledge, who had 19 points, and redshirt sophomore guard Tre’Von Willis, who scored 17, the Rebels improved to 1-1 on their six-game exhibition tour.
Senior guard Wink Adams hit two free throws in the final 15 seconds, and the Seahawks missed a shot at the buzzer as UNLV rebounded from Thursday’s lethargic 72-64 loss to the Sutherland Sharks.
"We had an extra night of sleep, and our bodies were more used to this tonight," Adams said. "We are just trying to get better and better. We came out, took the lead early and continued to hit our shots."
Senior guard Rene Rougeau had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven steals, and senior forward Joe Darger also scored 11.
"I thought we played much better," coach Lon Kruger said. "The competition we were playing against was a little bigger and also an older group than (Sutherland).
"I thought our guys’ intensity level was better, and they had their legs more under them. We took some steps tonight and made some plays for each other."
UNLV was to play its third game at 11 p.m. PDT Friday against the West Sydney Razorbacks. Its fourth game is at 2:30 a.m. PDT Monday against the Queensland All-Stars.
The Rebels were tested late against Illawarra, which cut UNLV’s lead to 75-72 on a three-point play by Dominique Cooks with 16 seconds remaining.
Adams countered with a free throw, but Illawarra’s Mat Campbell hit a 3-pointer to pull his team to within 76-75 with 10 seconds left.
Adams made one free throw with seven seconds left for UNLV’s final margin.
Campbell led Illawarra with 14 points.
UNLV led by 14 points in the first half and 43-35 at halftime.
At one point in the second half, Willis scored 10 straight points for UNLV and Rutledge added a 3-pointer to give the Rebels a 59-49 lead. But Illawarra came back with an 11-2 run and eventually tied the game at 65.
For the second straight game, all eight Rebels scored.
Video courtesy of Mike Clauretie
UNLV SCHEDULE UNLV’s exhibition schedule in Australia (times Pacific): • Thursday: Sutherland Sharks 72, UNLV 64 • Friday: UNLV 77, Illawarra Seahawks 75 • Friday: vs. West Sydney Razorbacks (n) • Monday: vs. Queensland All-Stars, 2:30 a.m. • Tuesday: vs. South West Metro Pirates, 2:30 a.m. • Wednesday: vs. Cairns Marlins, 1 a.m.